NCTTA Covid updates; Alumni Spotlight and new Board and more!
Newsletter (July 2020 )
NCTTA welcomes " iSET Network Development", as the new title sponsor of the NCTTA finals. iSET is a new startup Canadian company involved in sport entertainment technology development.

NCTTA welcomes Double Happiness as the official table sponsor of the iSET College Table Tennis Championships.

NCTTA welcomes Double Fish as the official ball sponsor of NCTTA competitions.

NCTTA COVID UPDATE: Fall 2020/Spring 2021

Hello all NCTTA student athletes, coaches, directors and supporters. 

These are trying times for everyone including the NCTTA. NCTTA President has been attending Zoom meetings with Campus Recreation and University athletic officials all summer long. 

The decision for NCTTA largely falls on the overall safety of its athletes, coaches and volunteers. It is a no-win situation still and we as an organization do not have a concrete decision as of yet. If school clubs are practicing we hope that you are being safe. (see UCF example below)

Stay tuned for more information coming.
University of Central Florida Table Tennis practice (with face masks)
NCTTA Alum Steps into New Role as HR Coordinator

By Michael Reff
NCTTA Media Committee

Stephanie Shih is no stranger to table tennis and most importantly the NCTTA experience. A self-described "late bloomer" to our favorite Olympic sport, Shih started her ponging passion at around 11 years old and boosted her level enough to be part of the US cadet and junior national teams circa 2004-2008. Therefore, Shih says, "I got to travel all over the world to compete and train, which was a tremendous and unique privilege."

Her NCTTA years started when she enrolled in Barnard college, an all-female institution "that is independent of, but closely affiliated with Columbia." Shih balanced her major in East Asian Studies with being part of a stellar college table tennis team that she states made it to Nationals every year she was in attendance.

Shih also holds a Master's in animal behavior and conservation from Hunter College CUNY, and says her current day job is at a property management company that oversees affordable housing. In addition to this position, she started working at an animal hospital in 2014 to bolster receiving her MA and stayed at this job until the pandemic hit this year.

Apart from playing in NCTTA events, Shih commenced her volunteerism efforts around 2010 as a student rep and later in 2013 as the New Jersey DD.

The decision to go for the NCTTA HR coordinator position was very logical for Shih.   She says,
"it fits well with what I do in my full time job (I'm our company's de facto HR department), and it was nice to know that even in my old age and even though I don't really play anymore, I could make a positive impact. I think more than that, it's also a way to help motivated students in their development; the organization can help model good behavior by operating coherently and competently (which it has always done), and can help people build their networks and connections.

Upon finding out that she got the HR position, Shih was thrilled. "I appreciate the votes of confidence," she remarks. She's looking forward to helping NCTTA out, she states, "in whatever capacity they believe I can be useful."

NCTTA president Willy Leparulo had this to say about Shih's stepping into the new role:
"[W]hen I visited NYC I would go to their [Barnard College and Columbia University team] practices and I met her for the first time there, her and her dad. Good TT people, knowledgeable about the sport, eager to make things better. Love to see an NCTTA ALUM come back and give back."

With the ultimate backing from the NCTTA president himself, Shih is off to a great start!

Finally, Shih has some advice for aspiring NCTTA volunteers.

"Just do it! I'm probably by definition the person to reach out to for questions about how to get more involved... Whatever one's motivation, be it nostalgia for alums like me, or even just curiosity, volunteering is an expression of altruism and selflessness, which are two things the world could use more of.

And with that passionate response, NCTTA congratulates Stephanie on stepping into her new role as HR coordinator!  

Stephanie Shih in her old playing days with her University mates!
Alumni Spotlight

Each month we take a moment to look at one of our NCTTA ALUMS. Check out what recent grad Annie Shi (Stanford University) is up to!

NameAnnie  Shi
College: Stanford University
Major: Product Design & Computer Science
Year/semester graduated: Spring 2019
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.

Hi there, I'm Annie! :) 
I graduated from Stanford with a B.S. in Product Design and an M.S. in Computer Science and now I am working at a tech company called Altair in Michigan. As someone from NJ, who went to school in CA and is now living in MI, I'm slowly making my way across the regions of the U.S.! 
What do you most enjoy about your profession? 

I'm working as a Product Designer in VR/AR, which is awesome because it's a pretty new field that doesn't have set-in-stone standards yet. This means there's a lot of room for exploration and experimentation, so I feel like I can be creative in my work and use both my design and programming backgrounds. It's fun try  new ideas and throw together quick prototypes and actually get to see and test them in VR.
What else are you up to? 

I'm very happy I was able to find a table tennis community here in Michigan, which was a great way to meet new people in an unfamiliar place. I even got to go to Canada a couple months back for a teams tournament, and I hope to keep playing! But as everything is shut down for quarantine (as I'm writing this), I've been spending lots of time inside playing Animal Crossing and getting back into writing. I even dabbled in baking and pickling. Hopefully when things open up again I'll be able to explore Michigan more and go hiking!
Any wise words for the future crop of college athletes? 

Don't forget to take the time to enjoy yourself! I think for many of us who have competed in table tennis before college, playing table tennis as a team sport is a pretty unique opportunity you don't often get. So even if you're stressed and busy with school or don't feel like you're in peak condition to compete, do it anyway! Let loose and make new friends, play because it's fun, and make memories!

Favorite NCTTA memory/memories?

I loved being able to make friends with all the players in my division/region. Over the 5 years we got to know each other well enough to travel to competitions together, hang out afterwards, and just become a big family. It was fun to cheer for each other at competitions despite being on different teams and to know you had people supporting you during your matches as well. Also, getting to see old friends again of course! :)

Giving Back-NCTTA "Amazon Smile"
A shout out to NCTTA ALUMNI. I have heard from many of you wanting to help NCTTA, but don't know how.
Most Everyone uses Amazon and if you wouldn't mind signing up with "Smile Amazon" a portion of whatever you spend goes to NCTTA. It is Amazon for not-for-profits like NCTTA!
For Smart phone use click here and for web use click here
If you don't use Amazon, you may simply consider donating by clicking here
NCTTA Showcases Its New Logo

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair

Companies redesign their logos to be up to date, better reflect their core values and create an impact.

Whether it is Nike's checkmark logo or the golden arches of McDonalds, change is just part of the game for the corporate world. The same is true of sports organizations, colleges and many other sectors of society.

National Collegiate Table Tennis Association supporters may have noticed a new logo design that went into effect July 1.

The new NCTTA logo design replaces one that Jia Shen first designed in 2000. So, after two decades of steady use, the old logo was retired. And a new NCTTA logo is being well-received during its first month of life.

Tae Kim, the NCTTA vice president for internal affairs, explained why he successfully pushed to rebrand the all-volunteer organization with a new logo.

The short answer, he said, revolves around modernizing the NCTTA's image and is tied to social media branding.

"First of all, I would like to thank the designer of the original logo and emphasize that there was nothing wrong with it, nor a strong need to replace it,'' Kim said.

One of the key reasons for change, the California resident said, was because the "style of the logo was getting outdated. In today's fast-paced techno-centric world, simple and to the point is trend. Cleaner, broader, strokes are the trend. If we look at leading brands and their instantly recognizable logos, a lot of them are actually very simplistic. The power of immediate identification is very important in establishing a brand.''

Again, think of Nike's checkmark logo. Just about everybody in the sports world is familiar with it. And the company's well-known logo has changed over the years. The same with McDonalds. And countless other companies around the globe have experienced logo redesigns.

Another reason NCTTA leaders like Tae Kim pressed for a logo design was due to the rectangular nature of the previous one.

He first pushed for the design change about four years ago and reached out to various artists.
The new logo was wonderfully designed by a former college table tennis player from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and NCTTA championships volunteer Thi Nguyen. 

Tae's technology committee performed a global logo replacement on the NCTTA's web pages and social platforms plus documents. So as of July 1, 2020, the NCTTA officially rebranded. 

NCTTA President Willy Leparulo thanks Tae Kim for his hard work and applauds the creative efforts of gifted artist Thi Nguyen for making it happen. "We appreciate their efforts and believe this new logo will serve us well for years to come,'' he said. "We believe this is a positive move for our organization.''

After commending the artist's portfolio, Tae Kim was convinced she was a great fit to design the NCTTA's new logo. "She was very thorough and composed as fully colored final draft collection of variations in-line with the style I was looking for. It was a no-brainer to approve them.''

What does the new logo stand for?

Artist and designer Thi Nyugen put it best as she describes the philosophy behind the new NCTTA image.

"In order to make the brand more marketable to younger audiences, the logo mark adopts a modern metro design style while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic to convey attributes through shapes. The repetition of strokes represents progress, speed and movement,'' Thi said.

In the new logo, Thi Nyugen noted that strokes are "also directed forward and upward showing positivity and improvement and representing NCTTA athletes' performance quality. The simplicity approach will enhance the versatility of the logo's usage across platforms.''

In her own words, she points to a new NCTTA logo that speaks to the organization's "personality'' and speaks to its core values of "collaboration, community and unity.''

The NCTTA oversees more than 150 college table tennis teams across the USA and Canada. All volunteers, its diverse leaders build friendships year-round as they promote the Olympic sport of table tennis.

Thi Nguyen in her playing days and now giving back to NCTTA with the creation of our new logo!
Brandon Lawrence Boosts NCTTA Board

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair

Getting someone like Brandon Lawrence to serve on the NCTTA board of directors with his experience in the table tennis world is certainly a coup.

Well, that's just what happened this summer. A New Jersey native who now calls Salem, Oregon home, Lawrence will serve as the board's athlete representative.

Brandon played the Olympic sport in college for four years and brings a decade of NCTTA volunteer experience. He's served as the division director for Virginia and Washington, D.C. In addition, he comes with skills as the NCTTA's human relations coordinator the past three years.

Brandon hit the ground running in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic touching so many lives worldwide. There were more than 137,000 coronavirus deaths in the USA as of July 12, the world leader.

"I hope to help the NCTTA through these challenging times and be a voice for the athlete,'' says Brandon Lawrence.

The George Washington University graduate is in demand in his professional career as well with Travel Salem. The company is a destination and management organization in Oregon. "We have 400 community partners I work with to help make our region better.''

Brandon joining the NCTTA board is part of a changing of the guard at the all-volunteer nonprofit. The NCTTA top brass oversees more than 150 collegiate table tennis teams in the USA and Canada.

The athlete representative serving before Brandon was Tae Kim of California.  Tae Kim resigned from that post to run for the position in June to succeed Chris Wang as the vice president, internal affairs. Chris served for more than ten years in key NCTTA leadership posts.

Stephanie Shih, an ex-Columbia University (Barnard College) player, beat out HR incumbent Brandon Lawrence in the June election. Shih is the former division director for the NCTTA's New Jersey divisions. But Brandon's skills are now being utilized as the athlete representative, after he was tapped for that job by NCTTA leaders.

Four-year terms for NCTTA board members began July 1.

"We are happy that Brandon Lawrence could stick with us on the board,'' said NCTTA President Willy Leparulo. " We believe he will prove to be a valuable asset as the athlete representative through 2024.''

Brandon Lawrence is a 2013 graduate of George Washington University. He's served as membership director at Travel Salem since February 2020. He's a native of Sewell, New Jersey located 13 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Away from table tennis facilities, Brandon is a big sports fan. Favorite sports teams include the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. He also likes the London, England-based Arsenal soccer team of the Premier League.

Brandon Lawrence
Alumni Spotlight 
Each month we take a moment to look at one of our NCTTA ALUMS. Check out what recent grad Wesley Fan (Boston University)  is up to!

Name: Wesley Fan
College: Boston University College of Arts and Science
Major: Economics and Psychology
Year Graduated: Spring 2015

About Myself and my work

I am still searching for my worldly purpose. I currently work at a table tennis coach in New Jersey. I will be entering back into Boston University, this time with the College of Engineering for a master's degree.

What do I enjoy most about my profession?

Currently, I enjoy playing a lot, and coaching. I get to engage with a whole community of players from beginners, advanced, and professional players, as well as all ages from pre-school aged to seniors.

What else am I up to?

I did teach tennis and english in the public schools on Boston for a few years after graduating, and then briefly taught math in New York City, before going fulltime into table tennis. I was also working in some non-profit work with environmental initiatives for planting trees in Manhattan, and in several other nations. I have rediscovered my love of math and science to pursue a new career in engineering coming this Fall 2020. And this year, I have taken up ballroom and latin dances, to hopefully fall hopelessly in love with my dance partner, or as a whole new way to move my body.

Words for future athletes?

Speaking from my own experience, for the athlete, I continually enjoy moving to stay healthy and fit. There's nothing like moving in a way that makes me feel great, confident, and healthy. A healthy body opens tremendous amount of opportunity in  life, while an unhealthy body can damage the spirits to face my mortality, and test my bravery in the face of possible fear of not living completely. Also, I try moving in various ways to keep variation, and new movements and ideas at the forefront. Be brave, and go for it, and stay committed to one's purpose. Whether I am currently in great shape or having an "off" day, or recovering from an injury, commitment and resilience to my purpose all come from the same source, and are pinnacle pillars to a great athlete. 

Favorite NCTTA memory?

My favorite NCTTA memory is going to regionals in NYC as a team in spring 2013 I believe. the Fall 2012/Spring 2013. It was a great experience being there and competing together. At the time I was not as healthy as I am now, and had a beverage before my game day, and I remember being very nervous to compete. There was a long day of competition and bus ride, and a whole new environment, as well as a good amount of other players who are part of the table tennis community. Nationals that year was also fun in Minnesota, if I recall correctly. It was good to be able to represent BU, on the national stage, and despite some injuries I sustained in my shoulder, and ankle, I still played well. To me that 2012/2013 school year as an athlete, was very memorable for its test in my health, and mental fortitude. From that experience, I learned a lot about myself, and I am still learning. 

I also enjoy the first weeks of every semester when there is a large number of players who show up for the BUTable tennis and we organize large games and events for them. It's also a great photo opportunity to see the full force of the table tennis reach.

Table Tennis Players Compete for Tokyo Paralympics

By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair

Ian Phillip Seidenfeld suffers from a medical disorder affecting all four limbs to require multiple corrective surgeries on his legs.

The 18-year-old University of Minnesota freshman is passionate about table tennis. Ian's played the Olympic sport since he was an 11-year-old para player at a San Diego tournament. 
Fast forward to 2020, and Ian qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. Ian is ranked No. 3, U-23 and #16 among all in class 6.

"I'm excited that I qualified, Qualifying is an important step towards my ultimate goal, and I hope to accomplish much more next year in Tokyo,'' Seidenfeld said.

Ian Seidenfeld representing USA Table Tennis © Sportida (Celje, 2018)

Also selected for the Tokyo Paralympics: Tahl Leibovitz, the ex-NYU standout, and Jenson Van Emburgh, a talented Naples, Florida native, the USATT announced in July. Jenson is No. 1 in the world, U-23, and #16 among all in class 3, while Tahl is No. 10 in the world in class 9, reports USA Table Tennis in their July announcement.

Jenson, 20, is a class 3 wheelchair athlete who has a spinal cord injury that happened at birth. He tried sports like sled hockey, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball before discovering table tennis. He was chosen to the U.S. Junior Para National Team for five straight years.

"We are all very proud of Team USA players. Tahl will have a chance to fight for another Paralympic gold,'' said Jasna Rather, USATT Director of Para Programs.

For Tahl, the 45-year-old New Yorker is entering his sixth Paralympic games. "I think this will be the best ever. I am looking forward to an amazing experience with my teammates.''

Tahl in his playing days at NYU!

Tahl thanked his wife, family and coaches. He will train every day until the games begin. "It's always an honor to represent the United States,'' Leibovitz said. The social worker is a member of the PING Pod club.

Leibovitz looks forward to teaming with Jenson and Ian. "I think we have a good chance to do very well. Ian is a great competitor and good fighter. We have one year to get fully ready. I am looking forward to the Team USA preparation.''

For Ian, it's been a lengthy journey that's taken much hard work and determination. Seidenfeld suffers from pseudoachondroplasia dwarfism.

Fast forward to 2017, and Ian began training for the Paralympics for table tennis. It's been a pretty positive run ever since.

In November 2017, Ian played at the ParaPanama Championships to qualify for the 2018 World Championships. "I played the tournament with broken legs held together by the metal detectors implanted to correct my legs. I finished 2nd in the tournament and later qualified for the 2018 SPINT World Championships by my ranking.''

Ian, who grew up in Lakeville, Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota this past season, wasn't done competing. The 2019 Para Panam Games was next and he qualified for the Tokyo games. The Paralympics was moved from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ian considers 2017 to be his breakout year because he began it ranked 31st in the world in men's Class six. He finished the year ranked 12th in the world in class six. To elevate his ranking, he won the 2017 Spanish Open Class six singles and Bayreuth Open Class six singles.

University of Minnesota table tennis coach John Tranter has known Ian quite well. John's table tennis coach, Mitchell Seidenfeld, is Ian's father. Mitchell has four medals from Paralympic games, including gold in Barcelona in 1992.

"Ian and Mitch have an incredible relationship,'' John Tranter said. "It's not easy to have a parent as a coach. But there is no one better positioned to be a great mentor to Ian than Mitch.''

Tranter appreciates what Ian Seidenfeld brings to the University of Minnesota Table Tennis Club. "He is always the first to volunteer to contribute to the behind the scenes aspects of running any club,'' from fundraising to grant writing. "His affable personality has made him indispensable in maintaining a positive culture within our club and team.''
Ian in the center with his University of Minnesota teammates at the recent 2020 NCTTA Midwest Regionals
California Dreamin

By Griffin Abrams
NCTTA Media Committee

COVID-19 has been to say the least 'a struggle' for Americans in its sweeping wave of impact on jobs, businesses, and disruptive access to necessary resources across the nation over the past couple of months. States across the US have released re-opening plans, some soft and others with more drastic measures, and today we turn to California and how the local table tennis clubs have been re-optimizing themselves to handle a rather impactful competitive freeze.
At the beginning of last month, California began the institution of a multi-phase plan in which each individual district had to adhere to a number of regulatory guidelines for a locality to start offering its services to the public. In an early statement released by the California State University Chancellor, schools would have "limited face-to-face interaction" and classes would be held online with minimal access to necessary campus resources. Schools would have to implement self-checking procedures, social-distancing guidelines, campus food-vicinities would remain closed and campus populations would be limited as well.
As California schools began to institute the above soft re-opening procedures, many table tennis organizations are preparing for a very slow-to-arrive competitive reinstatement. That does not necessarily mean that the clubs are at a stalemate, some clubs in the California table tennis circuit have had preliminary budgets released based on a 'high' and 'low' budget allocation from the school government in the Fall. These budgets can be used to optimize equipment purchases, sponsorship deals, marketing, event planning, or holding over until the next semester begins and an update about competitive prowess is released. A few schools are hinting at a potential return to competitive practice in the Spring, or at least practice with some distancing guidelines instituted which could in-part pave the way towards open-competition.
With the newest wave of COVID-19 cases sweeping multiple states, the above statement is based on whether or not these state regulations are followed and enforced. Now, another responsibility of the table tennis organizations throughout the State of California will be to recruit new players to maintain interest and the table tennis community strong.
Even without the ability to play in their opening semester, a few of the club leaders acknowledge that membership in table tennis organizations offers members an outlet for their academic pressures, friendships, and their first steps towards a really indulging sport. A few schools across the state are holding 'Virtual Meet the Clubs' where each club will have their own virtual rooms and a window of time to meet with interested members and pitch their organization for the prospective public.
A few clubs have expressed different pitches regarding how they will choose to present themselves ranging from establishing interest in the event of a Spring tournament, bringing in members to be a more social club, teaching about the basics of table tennis and the professional scene, and others simply are waiting and biding their time till their schools give them more leeway.
As this is the first time that these events will be held, only time will tell if the sports club will be able to actively bring in the members they hope for, but the spirit of keeping the table tennis community strong is emphasized by the dedication of their club leaders to have a really strong Fall semester. The prospect of a Spring competition keeps the spirit alive for so many teams to keep their club motivation strong for new members, other teams, and the whole table tennis community.
With in-person practices currently held-off indefinitely, one can only tell what the future of table tennis is for each of the California schools. As the old saying goes, "you may have me down but you certainly do not have me out." California table tennis schools are in no way out, and when the opportunity knocks we know these schools will come back even stronger than ever.
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